Recipe: Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies

Recipe: Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies

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Christine Gallary
Dec 15, 2016
(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Everyone loves a swirled sugar cookie, especially when it's infused with a touch of peppermint. This season we're inviting you to take this cookie to the next level for a holiday treat that will bring your cookie plate up a notch: Brush one side of the finished cookies with melted chocolate and sprinkle them with crushed peppermint candies for something extra festive, extra minty, and extra delicious.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Stack and Roll

The secret to getting the perfect swirl in these pinwheels is to stack rectangles of the regular and red-dyed dough together and then rolling them up into a log. From that point on, it's an easy slice-and-bake cookie, with the added bonus that the dough logs can be frozen ahead to be sliced and baked whenever the need for cookies strikes.

No-Fuss Decorating

After the cookies are baked and cooled, simply brush the bottoms of the cookies with some melted white or dark chocolate and then sprinkle on crushed peppermint hard candies. It's a bit like peppermint bark meets sugar cookie, but you won't need to temper any chocolate or deal with icing to create this shimmering effect.

Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies

Makes about 48 (2-inch) cookies

For the cookies:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon red food coloring or 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring paste

For decorating:
6 ounces coarsely chopped white or dark chocolate (not chips)
1/3 crushed peppermint hard candies or starlight mints

Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Place the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until fluffy and lightened in color, about 3 minutes.

Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the egg, peppermint extract, and vanilla extract and return the mixer to medium speed. Beat until well-combined, about 1 minute more.

Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the dough a few stirs, scraping the bottom of the bowl, just to ensure that all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Transfer half of the dough (about 13 ounces) on a piece of parchment paper.

Fit the bowl with the remaining dough back onto the mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the food coloring and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Place the red dough on a piece of parchment. Cover with a second piece of parchment and roll the dough into a 12x6-inch rectangle that's about 1/4-inch thick. Keeping the dough sandwiched in the parchment, transfer it to a baking sheet and refrigerate. Cover the reserved white dough with parchment and repeat rolling it out into a second rectangle. Stack this dough on top of the red dough in the refrigerator. Refrigerate until cool but pliable enough to roll, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove both doughs from the refrigerator and remove the top piece of parchment from each. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut each dough in half crosswise to create 4 (6x6-inch) squares of dough total. You should have 4 squares of dough, 2 red and 2 white. Stack a square of red and and a square of white dough together, lining them up as precisely as possible. Keep in mind that whichever dough is on the bottom of the stack will be the outside of the pinwheel. Roll the stacked square into a 6x8-inch rectangle.

Starting from a long end, tightly roll the rectangle of dough up into a log. The first roll might feel awkward, but you can use an offset spatula or butter knife to tuck the edge under and create a tight seal. Use one hand to guide the dough into a roll while pulling up with the parchment paper underneath to create a tight roll. Wrap the pinwheel log in parchment paper. Repeat stacking and rolling the remaining 2 squares of dough to make a second pinwheel log. Refrigerate both logs for 1 hour.

Arrange two racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Remove 1 pinwheel dough log from the refrigerator, unwrap, and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Turn the log a quarter turn every three or four cuts to prevent a flat side. Place 12 rounds on each baking sheet, spacing them at least 1 inch apart.

Bake the cookies for 7 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets between racks and from front to back. Bake until the cookies are just set in the center (they will not brown), 5 to 6 minutes more. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Let the baking sheets cool (you can use the same parchment), then repeat with cutting and baking the remaining dough log.

To decorate, melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring between intervals, until just melted. Flip the cookies upside down. Brush the cookie bottoms with a thin layer of chocolate, then sprinkle evenly with the candies. Let sit until the chocolate is set and the cookies are completely cool, about 45 minutes.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: The baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  • Freezing the dough: Wrap the parchment-wrapped logs of cookie dough in plastic wrap and freeze until solid, about 3 hours. Be sure to label and date the cookies with their baking temperature and time.
  • Baking from frozen: Remove the cookie logs from the freezer for 15 minutes before slicing and baking.
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